Dortmund Beat ‘Gladbach To Become ‘Autumn Champions’

Dortmund’s players celebrate during the German First division Bundesliga football match between Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Moenchengladbach in Dortmund, western Germany, on December 21, 2018.
Patrik STOLLARZ / AFP

 

Borussia Dortmund will begin the new year in pole position to win their first Bundesliga title since 2012 after beating second-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 on Friday.

An outstanding goal from English teenager Jadon Sancho and a sliding finish from Marco Reus ensured Dortmund end the first half of the German season top of the table as “autumn champions” going into the winter break.

Dortmund captain Reus admitted they showed some signs of tiredness following three league games in the last six days, including Tuesday’s shock 2-1 defeat at strugglers Fortuna Duesseldorf.

“You could see in the last 20 minutes that we were on our knees,” admitted match-winner Reus.

“A few weeks break will do us good so that we can attack again in the new year – the job is half done.”

The win puts Dortmund nine points clear of ‘Gladbach, who are level on points with reigning champions Bayern Munich who have a chance to cut the gap to six points when they face Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Sancho, the 18-year-old whose progress has been a major factor in Dortmund’s fine season, squeezed a shot in from the tightest of angles on 42 minutes after the lively Reus had crossed and Mario Goetze helped the ball on to the youngster.

Gladbach pulled level just before the break with a controversial goal from Christoph Kramer, which came after a goalmouth scramble that appeared to involve a handball but which the referee ruled valid after checking the VAR.

After the break, Reus charged in to put Dortmund back in front with Goetze the provider. Reus then slammed a free-kick against a post as Dortmund returned to winning ways after losing for the first time this season at Dusseldorf.

Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre played an experimental back four with Germany’s defensive midfielder Julian Weigl partnering Omer Toprak at centre-back.

“We deserved the win and now a few days of holiday,” said Favre.

“Julian Weigl played really well, created a lot of movement and solved a few problems for us at the back – it worked well.”

Hofmann Hits Hat-Trick Against Ex-Club Mainz

Moenchengladbach’s Belgian forward Thorgan Hazard and Mainz’ German defender Stefan Bell vie for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Moenchengladbach v 1 FSV Mainz 05 in Moenchengladbach, western Germany on October 21, 2018. Patrik STOLLARZ / AFP

 

Jonas Hofmann hit the first hat-trick of his career on Sunday as Borussia Moenchengladbach went second in the Bundesliga with a 4-0 thrashing of his former club Mainz.

After their stunning 3-0 win at defending champions Bayern Munich three weeks ago, this was another big statement from Dieter Hecking and his side, who moved up into second place behind Borussia Dortmund.

Gladbach’s victory leaves Bayern fourth in the table despite Munich’s 3-1 win at Wolfsburg on Saturday with ten men after Arjen Robben was sent off for a second yellow card.

“It’s a bit unrealistic for us at the moment, but the fans are allowed to dream,” said Hofmann when asked if Gladbach are realistic title challengers – 31 years after last winning the Bundesliga.

“If things keep going this well, then we’ll all be pretty happy here.”

Hofmann, 26, spent the 2014/15 season on loan at Mainz before joining Gladbach from Dortmund in January 2016 and the box-to-box midfielder shone at Borussia Park.

Gladbach took the lead when Belgium midfielder Thorgan Hazard put in a perfectly-timed pass and Hofmann fired home with 21 minutes gone.

The pair then combined again in emphatic style, conjuring up three goals in a devastating 10-minute spell after the break.

After a good pass from Gladbach captain Lars Stindl, Hazard fed the ball into Hofmann who fired in off the post on 53 minutes.

With the Mainz defence in tatters, Hazard then scored one of his own five minutes later by volleying home a great pass by French forward Alassane Plea.

With Gladbach counter-attacking at will, Hofmann wrapped up his hat-trick on 63 minutes by tucking the ball around Mainz goalkeeper Florian Mueller from outside the box.

Earlier, Hertha Berlin coach Pal Dardai defended the referee’s decision to reverse a late penalty, won by his own son, which cost his team the chance to climb third after the video assistant referee (VAR) was used in their 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg.

Hertha playmaker Ondrej Duda fired home his sixth league goal of the season only for Freiburg to equalise through defender Robin Koch before the break.

The draw leaves Hertha sixth in the table however, there was late drama at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium when Hertha were awarded a penalty two minutes from time.

Berlin midfielder Palko Dardai, the 19-year-old son of the Hertha coach, went down in the area after challenging Freiburg defender Manuel Gulde, but replays showed the Hertha player instigated the fall.

Referee Benjamin Cortus rightly reversed his decision to award a spot-kick, much to the annoyance of the home fans in the 48,000-strong crowd, but the Berlin boss gracefully accepted the decision.

“It wasn’t the wrong decision,” said Hertha coach Dardai.

“After the first half, we had clear chances to go ahead.

“We conceded a goal in the second half from a deflected shot, that was annoying.

“We were missing the final touches and those last passes, so we accept the result.”

Hertha took the lead when Duda scored with just seven minutes gone.

Norway midfielder Per Skjelbred picked out the attacking midfielder and Slovakian star Duda fired home from a tight angle.

However, Freiburg have a reputation for fighting back and Christian Streich’s youthful side equalised before half-time.

When striker Roland Sallai lost the ball in the penalty area, Koch reacted fastest to hammer his shot into the net on 36 minutes with Hertha goalkeeper Rune Dar powerless to save the shot.

Hertha had a string of second-half chances with ex-Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou going close before the VAR stepped in to deny Berlin the late penalty.

AFP

Borussia Sorry After Fans Insult Female Referee

FILE COPY Referee Bibiana Steinhaus looks at a video-proof monitor during the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Moenchengladbach vs Hertha BSC, in Moenchengladbach, western Germany, on April 7, 2018. Credit: Ina Fassbender / dpa / AFP

 

Borussia Moenchengladbach have offered their apologies to the Bundesliga’s only female referee Bibiana Steinhaus after a group of their fans called her a ‘whore’ during a league game with Hertha Berlin.

Gladbach beat Hertha 2-1 on Saturday thanks to rapid-fire goals by Thorgan Hazard after the video assistant referee (VAR) twice intervened.

With the hosts 1-0 down, Steinhaus ruled out a 54th-minute goal by Gladbach winger Patrick Herrmann when the VAR spotted an offside in the build-up.

And the 39-year-old awarded a penalty, following a foul by Hertha defender Marvin Lustenberger on Borussia’s Nico Elvedi, only after a long delay consulting with the VAR.

Her decisions incensed some home fans, who insulted Steinhaus, and Gladbach’s Director of Sport, Max Eberl made a public apology.

“As a club, we have to apologise to Mrs Steinhaus,” Eberl told broadcaster ZDF.

“She is an excellent referee and such nonsense has no place on a football field.”

Steinhaus, who made history by becoming the first female referee in a top league last year, said she was unaware of the insults.

“I did not hear that at all. My focus and concentration were totally on the action on the pitch,” she told German daily Bild.

AFP

Wenger Optimistic Players Will Perform Well Against Bayern

Misconduct: Wenger Gets 4-Match Touchline BanArsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, says his players will do well against Bayern Munich despite facing a difficult task in Tuesday night’s round of 16 second leg Champions League match.

To succeed into quarterfinal, Arsenal will have to better the feat of Spaniards Deportivo La Coruna who recovered from a 4-1 loss away to AC Milan in 2004, winning 4-nil at home to reach the semis.

The last time a team overcame a four goal deficit in European competition was Real Madrid in the 1985-1986 UEFA Cup, beating Borussia Moenchengladbach 4-nil at home after suffering, a 5-1 defeat in Germany.

Barcelona Shatter Guardiola’s Hope Of Victory With Man City

Pep Guardiola, Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, ArsenalIn the face of three games without victory, Barcelona have yet again truncated Pep Guardiola’s hope of victory, as Manchester City lost to the Spaniards on Wednesday night.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi netted the opener for the Spanish giants in a much expected tough UEFA Champions League showdown at the Camp Nou.

Efforts by the English side to balance the scoreboard in the first half proved abortive, but led to David Silva and Fernandinho getting a yellow card apiece.

As City’s Claudio Bravo bagged a straight red card, Messi showed his former coach that he was ready for the face-off, as he netted a brace in the second half (making it a hat-trick for the football legend).

Despite Guardiola’s familiarity with the hosts, Barcelona took their stand to maintain their home unbeaten record in the Champions League since 2013, as the match ended 4 – 0 with Neymar’s late goal.

The former Barcelona player and coach took the helm of the Sky Blues last summer.

Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique had expected a completely different Manchester City, now that the British side was being managed by Guardiola.

Pique believed his former coach had tried to make Manchester play in a similar way to the Spanish side.

Arsenal Shine

In England, Arsenal recorded huge success as they humbled Bulgaria’s Ludogorets Razgrad 6 – 0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners took the lead right from the first half with a brilliant goal each from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

It was an all Arsenal affair, as the English side had another reason to celebrate with Mesut Ozil netting a hat-trick in the second half.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich have finally broken the jinx of ‘no victory’ since their last three games in all competitions.

The German side recorded a 4 – 1 win while playing host to PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday night.

League One champions, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) also displayed a brilliant performance, defeating Basel 3 – 0 on the French soil.

Elsewhere, FC Rostov lost 0 – 1 to Atletico Madrid, Celtic lost 0 – 2 to Borussia Moenchengladbach, Dynamo Kyiv lost 0 – 2 to Benfica while Napoli lost 2 – 3 to Besiktas.

Teams Ready For UEFA Champions League Face-offs Tonight

UEFA Champions League
Barcelona, Manchester City

As football fans all over the world look forward to viewing Wednesday night’s UEFA Champions League showdowns, various European clubs have been talking about their preparedness for the clashes.

Pep Guardiola’s formidable managerial skills will be put to the test again when his stuttering Manchester City side visit his former club, Barcelona in a much anticipated game.

Guardiola’s brilliant start in England, which saw him oversee 10 consecutive wins in all competitions, has given way to a run of three games without victory.

The former Barcelona player and coach took the helm of the Sky Blues last summer.

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola

The Catalans, however, are unbeaten at their home in the Champions League since 2013.

Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique expects a completely different City, now that the British side is under Guardiola.

Pique believes his former coach has managed to make Manchester play in a similar way to the Spanish side.

Elsewhere, Ludogorets Razgrad manager, Georgi Dermendzhiev, says his side have learnt from their mistakes, as they prepare to take on Arsenal at the Emirates.

Ludogorets have been impressive so far in the campaign; drawing with Basel and leading French champions, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) last time out, before eventually succumbing to a 3-1 loss.

The Bulgarian side have won the domestic title five years in a row and have slowly built up experience of European soccer.

Coach Arsene Wenger, however, earlier warned the Gunners against their visitors’ experience and hopes his team would reflect the caution in the match.

Meanwhile, French midfielder, Francis Coquelin, is ready to fight for a place in the Arsenal squad ahead of the clash, after he was out with injury since September 24.

Arsenal midfielder, Francis Coquelin

For the Frenchman to get back in the team, he will have to beat competition from Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny in a packed midfield.

On the flip side, Bayern Munich are hoping to return to winning ways in their match against PSV Eindhoven.

Bayern, who started the season well, have not had a win in their last three matches in all competitions.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti, however, says it is too early to talk of a ‘crisis’ in the team.

Carlo Ancelotti, Phillip Lahm
Manager Carlo Ancelotti

Bayern are second in Group D with three points while PSV are in fourth place with one point.

Other fixtures to look out for tonight are: PSG against Basel, Dynamo Kyiv versus Benfica, Napoli against Besiktas, Celtic versus Borussia Moenchengladbach and FC Rostov hosting Atletico Madrid.

UCL: Juventus Ready For Sevilla Clash

juventusJuventus and Sevilla will be hoping to leave their domestic woes behind as they meet in the Champions League Group D clash in Turin.

Both teams have had a difficult start to the season domestically, but put in a more positive performance in the Champions League.

Juventus opened with a 2-1 victory at Manchester City, while Sevilla beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-nil.

Serie A Champions, Juventus, who last season reached the Champions League final, have dropped to 15th place in the Serie A, after losing for the third time in six matches this season.

Juventus goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, said the similarities between the Bianconeri and Sevilla meant both teams would be hungry for a victory on Wednesday.